I'd just been dumped by my girlfriend of four years two months before New Year's, 2003. We weren't on speaking terms, but I'd seen her new boy driving her car with her giggling in the passenger seat a week before Christmas. I knew of no parties going down, since most of my friends were out of town and the rest of my old drinking crew stuck with the ex, who still worked at two local bars. As broke as I was at the time, the bars and clubs were out of the question, and I was basically SOL for any kind of celebration unless someone was willing to PAY me to party. Which they did.
The catering company I worked for part-time needed a bartender for a wedding they were hosting at a college campus on South Federal. Not exactly what I'd had in mind to ring in the New Year with, but I figured I was lucky to make a few bucks when everyone else was paying $20 covers downtown.
Additionally, you can usually count on an extra little sump'n-sump'n from the clients at these little "the night I would usually be as plastered as Aunt Many-Manhattan Mabel over there" shindigs. Plus, it's always good to stay sober on amateur night.
New Year's Eve Guide Essay
So I takes the job. Drive my ass to Loretto Heights and proceed to schmooze the pants off about 150 twenty- to fifty-somethings. By eleven o'clock, every last bridesmaid is lit, thanks to yours truly, the sushi bar's fully stocked and it's "Chicken Dance" time. I've just finished cleaning up the third broken champagne glass from the dance floor and step outside for a well-deserved smoke. As I gaze out over twinkly Lakewood, letting the crisp wind wash off the stench of romance and promise for the future and all that crap, I completely miss the shot that didn't ring out in the night. I'm merely confronted by just enough down time to contemplate the great time my ex is probably having on this magical evening with her new beau. Blink-blink, sniffle.
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Anyway, smoke's over, party ends, the whole damn drunken family sloshes out to their bus back to the hotel, and we clean the place up. By the time we're done, every bar in Denver's already closed, so there's no chance for a nightcap. Our lovely client says "send me the bill" and jumps on the bus with the rest of them. So, no tip.
As I walk out to my car, I say to myself, "Well Jake, at least you made money tonight." And when I open the car door, a little chunk of broken glass winks at me from the driver's seat. Again, looking on the bright side, I say to myself, "Those crazy kids and their exploding champagne flutes. Some must've got on ya, Jake, and fallen onto your seat just now. Crazy kids," I says to myself. Then I close my car door with an appropriate slam, which proceeds to bring my whole hatchback window crashing in. Apparently it has been pierced and spider-webbed, possibly by a bullet of some sort, waiting here for me to display an appropriate amount of surprise at its funny, broken shatteredness. I give a little crazy laugh as I get out to inspect the carnage, guessing that every penny I've just spent the past ten hours earning was about to go into the window repair of a totally beat-up 1984 red Saab. So I drive home, with winter in my car, shivering appropriately.
But wait, just for kicks, to really get '04 off to a stellar start, I decide to roll through a stop sign on my way back to somewhere warm. I'm pulled over seconds later by a couple of cops who are so surprised to find me so UN-toxicated that when I point out the fact that I've just lost something very dear to me, they smile and wave me homeward.
I think it snowed the next 23 days or something fun.